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Finding Your Why

My friends have been mocking me over the utterly ridiculous saga of our refrigerator, which has been broken then fixed, then broken again, then fixed again, on and off since mid-March. Over that time, our home warranty insurance has paid two different repairmen to have multiple cracks at it, and as of this moment it looks like the fridge is finally fixed. In the interim, I coped by farming our frozen food out to my friend Nina's semi-empty fridge, and using a tiny dorm fridge, then eventually browbeating my insurance company into renting us a full size fridge. We also compensated by ordering a lot of local take-out food. As I predicted, this fridge ordeal was a total drag and completely upset my cooking, shopping and meal planning routine for weeks and weeks.

When it was finally over, I had a surprisingly hard time getting back to cooking, shopping and meal planning. I say surprisingly because this is something that I am really good at to the point where I can essentially phone it in. It took an enormous recommitment on my part to get myself back on track. Those months off of my normal routine filled me with an almost blissful feeling of inertia. I mean, who says Oh goodie, I get to shop for food today! Or, Yay! I get to make a lasagna! Or, Oh Darn, sushi AGAIN?? Not me. I had to dig deep and look at the bigger picture.

My Why for cooking all our meals is because I simply can't afford not to. Articulating that to myself gave me the burst of energy I needed to dig deep and do whatever it took to get back in the kitchen. The limit of our food budget far outweighed the convenience of ordering deli or take-out food several times a week. In other words, slacking off in the kitchen wasn't economically sustainable. So, I drove to Costco and stocked up on meat, chicken and fish to fill the freezer. I then hit up Grocery Outlet and Monterey Market for the rest. I came up with several dinner menus for two weeks, with the idea of cooking double recipes to freeze for later, and still have enough for lunches the next day.

To say that I was less than thrilled about doing this is an understatement. I felt exhausted the moment I entered each grocery store parking lot! It took me about two weeks of reminding myself daily why getting my plannng/shopping/cooking routine back on track was necessary before it felt normal.

This experience reminded me how important it is to find your Why when the chore you're putting off is necessary, but not critical, and ranges from mundane to loathsome. It's easy to find your Why when guests are coming to stay at your house, you're hosting a dinner party, or you need make room for your car in the garage because your neighborhood has restricted parking and you're going on vacation. It's a lot more challenging when you and your family are the only ones impacted.

Let me give you some examples of my Whys for doing things around my own home. I cook our food to honor my budget. I do laundry because I love the look, feel, and smell of clean clothes. I fold my laundry because I hate wrinkles. I tidy up the house because it makes me feel peaceful. I vacuum to keep my asthma under control. I even pick the dog poop up, a chore I loathe doing, so that I can relax and enjoy being out in my sunny garden.

Finding your Why is critical to my work with clients. It's easy to discuss what's not working in a home, but it is of greater important for my clients to find their why or nothing changes in the long run. As an example, figuring out where to store kid's toys so they don't accumulate in the living room is not as motivating as the parents acknowledging their desire to make the living room a beautiful adult space where they can entertain. It's a cinch to relocate toys. Remembering the solid reason Why they chose to move the toys out of there gives parents the ongoing motivation to maintain the living room, and keep the toys from creeping back in.

My best advice is to pick one thing in your home you've been avoiding, then take a step back, and look at the bigger picture. Of course you know you should do this task, but do you know Why? There's always a good reason. The key is to articulate it to yourself in a way that makes sense to you. While you're at it, note the impact that not doing your chore has had on you. If you've ever put off doing laundry to the point where you've been forced to do the shame walk through CVS wearing your slinky cocktail dress and flip flops because you had to pick up a prescription for your sick kid, then you know what I mean.

It might be that finding your Why is the tool you need to get things back on track. I'm not going to go so far as to suggest that you're going to enjoy dealing with it. But, anything that gets you moving in the right direction is a good thing - right?



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